SHIPPING CONTAINERS REVOLUTIONIZED the way freight is moved around the world. By making it possible to pack all manner of cargo in a uniform way, shipping companies save money and streamline the process of loading and unloading goods. But it only worked because the size and shape of shipping containers are standardized, ensuring smooth transitions the trains hauling containers across the country to the boats designed to carry the containers across the ocean.
Software containers are poised to do the same thing for the web that shipping containers did for logistics. They make it far easier to move applications from the individual laptops and workstations where they are coded to the vast clusters of computers that serve those applications to customers. Now, a who’s who of tech companies, including Amazon, Google and Microsoft, have formed a new organization called the Open Container Project to create an open source standard for software containers.